Best Golf Books: 11 Books Any Golfer Will Love
I always tend to read more when I travel.
As I gear up for my first trip in nearly two years (thanks, COVID), I’ve started stockpiling my iPad for some airport reading material, and I figured I’d share the best golf books I’ve read in my 10 years as a golf blogger.
There are so many good ones that span everything from instruction, travel, the PGA tour, and beyond.
My goal with this post was to create a list of the very best golf books out there, so regardless of what type of golf book you’re looking for, you’ll see something that’s interesting.
I don’t know if this is the best-selling golf book of all time, but if it were? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Harvey Penick’s Little Red book is hands down one of the most accessible, and useful golf instruction books ever written.
Has anyone ever told you to “take dead aim?” If so, you can thank Harvey for that one.
I think Tom Doak’s Anatomy of a Golf Course is the best starting point for someone who wants to learn more about golf course architecture and the design process. It’s easy to read, enjoyable, and when you get to see him break down a hole that you’ve played before? It makes you want to play even more.
There have been quite a few books written about the PGA Tour, but I enjoyed this one the most.
It talks in-depth about the young new stars on the tour (well, not so young now), so pretty much regardless of who your favorite (or least favorite) is, they will be discussed in the book.
It’s also a no-holds-barred approach, where Shane Ryan is willing to be blunt and tell it like it is based on his experience traveling and reporting on the 2014 PGA Tour.
We all know golf is a mental sport. It doesn’t matter how good or talented you are, if you can’t master the mental side of it, or inner game, you’ll never live up to your potential as a golfer.
Based off my favorite sports (and frankly, psychology) book ever, The Inner Game of Tennis, Gallwey introduces you to “self 1” and “self 2” and shows you how to make the two become friends and help you play much better golf in the process.
Most of you are probably going to pass on this, and say “my mental game is just fine.” Just wait in 3 months when you’re up against the person who has taken this stuff to heart.
When Tom Doak’s original Confidential Guide came out, it ruffled more than a few feathers.
Someone finally had the nerve to objectively rate hundreds of courses around the world.
It quickly became a collector’s item and original copies of it ran into the hundreds online.
Well a couple years ago, Doak decided to enlist the help of a few friends and re-release the Confidential Guide as a series of 5 books.
They aren’t cheap, but if you’re a golf course geek and want the collection that I’ve heard referred to as the “Golf Course Bible” check it out.
I had to kind of make a random category for this one. But the fact is, if you’ve ever ventured out to Bandon Dunes, Dream Golf is an absolute must-read.
If you haven’t been to Bandon Dunes it’s still a must-read, and it should come with a disclaimer that it will lead to you spending a couple grand to take a trip down there.
Dream Golf covers the entire building and construction of each of the courses and the resort. It’s a fascinating read, and one to read before you go, and then again after you return.
If you were to ask any diehard golfer to choose one “must-read” golf book, there’s a high likelihood they will say “The Match.”
The Match tells the story of the greatest golf match of all time between amateurs Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi, against legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.
It takes place in what may be the sexiest of all golf settings in the world, Monterey Bay – and more specifically at Cypress Point.
Regardless of whether or not you know how The Match turned out, it’s a fascinating read, and provides insight into some of the best golfers to play the game.
I’ve followed John Sabino’s blog for years now, and he was one of the people who inspired me to do my own Top 100 golf quest.
Years ago, he finished his goal of playing the Top 100 courses in the world, and then wrote a book all about how he was able to access these courses.
If you’ve dreamt of playing places like Augusta National, Pine Valley, or simply the most exclusive club in your town – his book provides great details on how to do it.
Or, you can read my blog post here on the nine things I’ve personally done to be able to access some of the world’s best.
For some people when they reach their thirties and are hitting the beginning of a mid-life crisis they buy a Porsche, or take a trip to Hawaii.
But for Tom Coyne, he had something else in mind. A walk to end all walks.
He decided to trek across the country of Ireland and play every seaside course in the process.
This book shares the story of his trip, and inspires you to take an adventure of your own.
Over the course of history, statistics have mostly been domain for PGA Tour pros. There was frankly no way for the amateur to calculate the most detailed numbers of their game – and frankly, for most people even if they could it wouldn’t be worth it.
Well things have changed.
I first read Every Shot Counts on my flight back to New Haven, Conn. to meet with the Arccos Golf team for the first time.
Arccos Golf is an app with sensors on each of your clubs that allows the amateur to track all of the same numbers that PGA Professionals get from their rounds. It’s fascinating and I’m a huge fan. See my full review of Arccos Caddie here.
So what does that have to do with Every Shot Counts?
The book, finally gives you a framework for what to do with those numbers. It also uncovers numerous fallacies about golf, such as debunking the “drive for show, putt for dough” notion.
And if you’re a data geek, then this is a must-read. Here’s my review of it.
Best Golf(ish) Novels: Mr. Wizard and Everyone Here is from Somewhere Else
This is actually a pair of novels from veteran golf writer, Jeff Wallach.
Mr. Wizard and Everyone Here Is From Somewhere Else, encompass hilarious and poignant scenes of golf in New York and in the fictitious Irish golf town of Ballydraiocht. The novels are about two brothers, Phillip and Spencer Elliot, who pursue golf partly as a means of answering questions about who their father is, where they belong in the world, and other such minor concerns.
There’s a great conversation in which the brothers talk about golf and fishing as two paths toward enlightenment, and poke gentle fun at both.
The books also offer some dry caddie humor and plenty of Guinness and Jameson, which I can never get enough of.
So, There You Have It
There are dozens of really good golf books out there, but these are ten that span different aspects of the sport, and ones I most thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll update this post at some point, with another 10-15 to read in case you’ve already read most of these.
And in the meantime: